Coventry History Editathon/Report
The Historic Coventry edit-a-thon was a day-long event held on March 31 2012 at Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Coventry. It was the second event for Wikimedians to have come out of the partnership with the museum, following on from the Backstage Pass on 1 October 2011.
Since the Backstage Pass in October 2011, the partnership between the museum and Wikimedia UK has continued to develop. In January 2012 Wikimedia UK Chair, Roger Bamkin, (with the assistance of a couple of local editors) ran a workshop for Coventry residents on editing Wikipedia. Following a short talk, the attendees (who were mostly retirees or local historians) were given an editing masterclass.
Rock drum and Erin Hollis also uploaded 17 images from the museum's exhibition of watercolours. 9 more object images and scans of paintings were uploaded during the edit-a-thon.
The date and topic for the event was chosen at the first Coventry meetup, only 6 weeks before the event itself by Harry Mitchell and Rock drum. Most subsequent planning was conducted online via email with museum employee Erin Hollis.
11 Wikimedians and new editors – in addition to 2 curators – were present at the event. Most of the new editors took to Wikipedia well. A number were local historians, with an interest in the city’s history. One curator also seemed to have taken an interest in editing – potentially something to follow up.
Although the main focus of the day was editing, the event began with tours of the museum and history centre. Martin Roberts (head curator) provided an insight to the museum's current exhibition of watercolour paintings of Coventry and Warwickshire (around which the edit-a-thon was loosely based) and Rayanne Byatt introduced attendees to the on-site Coventry History Centre.
Using sources provided by the museum, Wikimedians began editing. In addition to experienced Wikimedians creating and improving articles themselves, Tom Morris, RexxS and Harry Mitchell helped the new editors get to grips with editing. They all created user pages and two began work on articles on the day.
The training of new editors is of paramount importance to the sustainability of the project. A couple of those were local historians. It is hoped that another training event for non-Wikimedians will be held at the museum later this year.
Feedback received was positive. The tours, food and facilities were all viewed as good – as were the sources provided. Most attendees found out about the event by either personal invitation or on Wikipedia. At least one attendee found out about the event from the piece which appeared in the Coventry Telegraph. One new user commented that it would have been helpful to have more written materials available for new editors to take home with them.
The merchandise provided by the chapter also proved popular and most attendees took badges or t-shirts.
The event was a success. Should a similar event be organised in the future, more "Welcome to Wikipedia" guides should be made available – there were only two available and they both proved incredibly useful in teaching the new editors. It’s also important to remember to have someone on the door welcoming people as they arrive and to have the sign-in sheet (and the merchandise) by the door.